Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin knew the game against Northern Arizona was going to be a challenge.
Not because of major concerns about the opponent, but issues within the offensive unit.
The Rebel 'O' staff had to play musical chairs with the offensive line due to suspensions because of academic issues with the starting tackles - John Jerry and Bradley Sowell - and knowing they were going to rest star TB/WR Dexter McCluster, the straw that has been stirring the Rebs' drink of late.
"It was very challenging, but I am really proud of the way those guys played with what amounted to two full days to prepare," said Austin, whose offense put up 425 yards and emptied the bench for the fourth quarter.
Austin was pleased with QB Jevan Snead's play - considering.
"With the situation we had up front, Jevan played well. We had a fairly balanced attack and we had a couple of drops that would have helped us, but overall he did fine," Kent stated.
Kent's biggest goal for the NAU game was for the Rebs to protect the football. They had no interceptions and no lost offensive fumbles, the lone fumble that went the Lumberjacks' way was a fumbled punt by Marshay Green.
"We stressed taking care of the football and not trying to force the ball into coverage. I thought our guys were cognizant of that all night and got away from those things tonight," he allowed.
Austin was pleased, for the most part, with the run game, particularly Brandon Bolden's 45-yard TD run where he broke three or four tackles on his way to the end zone.
"That long run was awesome. He just refused to go down," said Kent. "He broke a bunch of tackles and accelerated into the end zone, outrunning everyone. Great run."
The Rebels went into the game with a bare necessity gameplan due to all the new personnel up front.
"We scaled back tremendously and there was one protection we could only call one way," he chuckled. "It was pretty tough. We took a good bit of the gameplan we drew up Sunday and just trashed it. We were bare bones, but that's what we had to do in that situation."
Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix liked the way the game started, with DE Marcus Tillman intercepting the first pass of the game which set up a short TD drive for the first points of the contest.
"It was crucial we get off to a good start, I thought," said Nix. "We wanted to create some turnovers tonight and get that ball rolling, so that was a good start in that regard," said Nix. "We were kind of inconsistent, but overall we're 6-3. I'll take it."
Nix was not upset with the 354 yards the Lumberjacks managed.
"They had a good offense, averaging about 425-450 yards a game," he said. "They are polished, well-coached and they make plays.
"They did what they were able to do. We knew they were going to get some yardage. Good offenses do that. We wanted to keep them out of the end zone when they got down there if they moved the ball. We did a pretty good job with that. I'm not interested a whole lot in yards. It's points that wins games."
Tyrone said he expects to get SS Johnny Brown back. Brown sat out the NAU game with a pulled groin.
"If this had been a bigger game, he probably would have played tonight," Nix noted.
Brown was replaced by Fon Ingram, who limped off the field late in the game.
"He's been limping all season and will probably keep limping," said Nix. "He's got a knee issue he's pushing through."
While not directly under his wing, the Rebels blocked a pair of field goal attempts.
"I think Kentrell Lockett got one. While that's not really under me, it does show some character and a commitment to getting off the field, so I was very happy to see those big plays," Nix stated.
Looking ahead to the last three games, does Nix feel his defense is up to the stretch run challenge?
"Oh yes. I feel good about our defense. They'll be ready," he closed.
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